Dave Heberer
United States
Lake Stevens
WA
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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I like bluffing games, but don't get to play them too often. The Sasquatch convention is next week and the Essen games (it seemed like over a 100) were all stacked up ready to be learned and played.

Steve, Ken, and Charlie were playing this game over in the corner and seemed pretty happy with the game, so Tejas and I joined them to bring the count up to 5. The three that were playing before tried to explain the rules but Tejas and I just could not understand the smaller details.

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The game seemed pretty complicated for a bluffing game, and it came with 2 flow charts that didn't seem to cover all the cases. And to make matters more entertaining sometimes a couple of dice would get jammed up in the cup which meant you had to keep an eye out for missing dice. The dice seemed ok, there were 4 blank faces, a face with 1 rat, and a face with 2. A couple times it was hard when peeking to see if there was 1 rat or 2 and that burned somebody one time. There were also a bunch of brains that represented sanity that were surprisingly hard to keep on the table. Each player started with a pool of them representing their sanity.

Anyways, to sum up the rules after they'd been explained to me this is how we played (I think):

Someone started it off by rolling a single die and then they had a couple of options:

1) they could claim there are no rats showing (no rats in the walls)

or

2) pay 1 brain and claim there are 1 or 2 rats showing (more would be impossible with 1 die). The first person to claim there are rats in the walls in a round of play has to pay a brain.

Then, they pass the cup to the next person carefully (to not shake things up). This person has several options:

1) claim the previous person was lying and reveal. Depending on the claim (no rats or some number of rats) a check was made by publicly revealing the dice. If they said 'no rats' but there are any rats at all this is a lie. If they said some number of rats and there aren't at least this many rats showing this is a lie. The opposite conditions are considered truth. If the challenger caught a lie, they gain a brain and the liar loses 1 (or 2, it was variable and didn't seem to have a reason for it). If the challenger didn't reveal a lie then they lose 1 (or sometimes 2?) brain and the truth-teller gains a brain. The person challenging starts off from the beginning with a new round.

2) They can believe the person is telling the truth. If the person said there were any rats in the walls and you believe them you give them a brain. After doing this, you may either:

Just pass the cup to the next person without looking telling the next player what you were told as the number of rats in the wall.

or

Take a die from the table and without looking at the previous result add it to the cup and shake it up. You can either not look and when passing claim the same number of rats as was told to you or you can look and if any rats were claimed by the previous person you must claim at least 1 more. If no rats were claimed, you can still claim no rats. If you don't like the roll when you look you can re-roll all the dice, don't look at the result, and claim at least 1 more rat then the previous bid.

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I personal think bluffing games are best when people have a good grasp of the odds of things happening and get to the part where we try to determine if you are lying or not. This game had a flowchart that you had to follow to determine what the options were, and they didn't even cover the "don't look at the dice" options that a person had available to them. Tejas and I were really having trouble with the rules but Tejas had like 8 brains and everyone else had like 3 or so when Charlie kept trying to push the dice pool up to 5 and then claimed that there were 10 rats in the cup. Ken, Charlie, and Steve started hollering about this brings about sudden death with some special rules and I just lost it. I fell over and laughed for about 3 minutes at the thought that the complex things had extra special rules about this.

It turns out that if someone claims that there are 10 rats in the cup (we couldn't find rules that stated whether there had to be 5 dice to make the claim possible but we played that you did) and the next person believes the claim then we do one final round where if you lose any brains on a challenge you lose all your brains. You start this round with all 5 dice, but the player that starts the round can't claim there are no rats in the walls. I'm not sure if you pay the 1 brain to be the first to claim there are rats in the walls, I'd guess so. Then you can pick any other player in the game and make them lose too. The victory conditions are the same as the normal game have the most brains when one player runs out of brains.

Steve rolled all 5 dice, didn't look at them and claimed there were 5 rats in the walls. I had to hope to take out Tejas, so I passed the cup without peeking to Tejas. Tejas challenged and in fact there were exactly 5 rats in the cup. Tejas lost, and then took out Charlie (the 2nd place player). Ken and I tied to win with 3 brains a piece.

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I don't recommend the game, it's too complicated for the bluffing part. There is a glimmer of awesome in the look/don't look to affect what you can claim but the upkeep was too fiddly and the options weren't clear enough always. I suspect it was to make things more fair but trying to keep track of all that drove me nuts. Which is funny, considering the theme.

I also think (but I could be wrong) that the sudden death rule is to make it so that if you think someone is going to win normally you can have a chance to win by some high stakes one last round of play. It seems like it would drive the player with the most brains to challenge more often when they think the table is going to push the dice pool to 5 so they can force sudden death and kill them. It seems like a critical part of the game, but I could be wrong.

Ken really liked the game, and Charlie and Steve seemed to have fun. Tejas really disliked it (and not because he lost, he was actually trying to figure out a way to end the game any way he could within the rules when the sudden death rule came out of nowhere).
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Malte Kühle
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Landau (Pfalz)
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Bonn - Forever loved!
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It is not enough to win - everyone else must also lose
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We played our first round tonight and interrupted after 15 minutes, because we were bored by this way too complicated rules. Which is a pity because the game looks awesome.

But having Bluff or "Mäxchen" how we call it, this one definately won't be played again.
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Dave Heberer
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Lake Stevens
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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We were in that boat too and I think that although the rules don't come out and say it explicitly that the sudden death rule adds needed tension to the game. But I can't help with the complexity of what to do on your turn, I was hoping it was just german -> english rule problems.
 
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Dave Heberer
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Lake Stevens
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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I wanted to thank Malte for giving me the name of the game "Mia" or Mäxchen. This game seems to be largely derived from that game, and while I think the game could have some trouble I saw a variant that would address my concern of lack of action.

I will try this out next time I meet up with friends, and see how it works out.
 
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